While the cover of this booklet is not in wonderful shape – note the very old tape “repairs” and the further damage they have created – it is still a wonderful part of the collection with fantastic hand colored plates. It is the Birds of North America, Part 12 by Theodore Jasper, A.M., M.D. I will not go into detail – just look at the few plates I have included. They are wonderful. You don’t find this anymore.
It’s been many decades in the making but it is finally here! I am speaking of Edith Andrews’ new book – Excerpts from a Nantucket Journal.
Edith is an island ornithologist who worked for the Maria Mitchell Association for many, many years starting about 1940 as a nature teacher. She would also serve for many more years as the MMA’s ornithologist, as well as in the Mitchell House as an assistant to the curator and the curator as well. She taught at Nantucket High School and also taught at Miami University and that is just the beginning.
This book is a compilation of some of her journal entries concerning her observations on various island birds with lots of island tidbits and stories as well. Whether you are a birder or not, this is a MUST read! It is incredibly interesting and full of all sorts of wonderful information. I will disclose that I helped Edith to put it together – typing up journal entries and taking dictation, working on getting the photographs in, and putting it together − but I learned so much in the process! I have known Edith since I was maybe ten or younger – first going on a bird walk with her. I am sure the adults rolled their eyes as my brother and I arrived with our parents. But my brother made a big hit with some of his natural specimen finds along the way so I think they wound up being okay with us coming along, we were after all very quiet children. I of course got to know her better as I began to volunteer and then work at the Mitchell House starting when I was 12 (yes, believe it or not, age 12) and even better sitting with her at Ice Pond working on helping her to put the book together. I consider myself a novice in the bird world – my parents bird – but I learned so much with Edith over the last two or so years that we were working on this – and not just about birds. And you will too, when you read this – it is a not to be missed book for birders, ornithologists, locals, visitors, and even people from very far “away.”
You can find the book on the shelves of the MMA’s gift shop (and local stores). You need to learn about and observe the world around you – as Maria Mitchell once said, “We see most when we are most determined to see.” Edith’s book will help you learn, see, and appreciate (and even laugh).
P.S. Tuesday, October 29th is Edith’s 98th birthday!!!!
While cleaning the Special Collections (yes, the task is completed!! but I have a trove of photographs for you), I came across this piece – two pieces actually. A series that was sold by subscription but I believe was later made into a book − The Birds of North America by Theodore Jasper, A.M., M.D. with the most phenomenal plates. The covers are in rough shape – but have since been properly contained to preserve them. I include a few images here.
Still cleaning books and processing archives . . . Look what I came across the other day rolled up in a big box with many different plans associated with the MMA’s buildings from across the ages of renovations, additions, and master plans.
This is a chart of North American birds published by the Massachusetts Audubon Society in 1898. The twenty-six life sized bird images were created by, I believe, the renowned Louis Agassiz Fuertes, and it was printed by none other than the Milton Bradley Company of Springfield, MA. Considering how and where it was stored over the last fifty years or so, it is in quite good shape except for the dirt and grime of time, a large water stain at the bottom, and a small tear over the body of one bird.